Indonesia Hampers Israeli Badminton Player's Way to World Championship

Misha Zilberman says applied for visa 6 months ago, but immigration department says request is still being processed.

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Indonesian authorities failed to grant a visa to Israeli badminton player Misha Zilberman, who will now likely miss the world championship in Jakarta next week, AFP reported.

The 26-year-old Zilberman, who represented Israel in the 2012 Olympics, said on his Facebook page that "After exchanging letters for half a year and after sending all the documents they requested, and after arriving in Singapore!! They say no. The Badminton World Federation knew about this and didn't help."

"After waiting for two weeks in Singapore for a visa it appears they are sending me home instead of to the world championship."

Indonesia and Israel have no formal diplomatic relations. To get a visa, Israelis must apply from Bangkok or Singapore, and have to present a sponsorship letter from Indonesian officials.

A spokeswoman for the Indonesian Badminton Association confirmed that Zilberman has yet to receive a visa. The immigration department said his application was still being processed but refused to explain the delay, Yuni Kartika said, adding that the organization is pushing authorities to grant Zilberman the visa.

Indonesia hampers Israeli badminton player's way to world championship

Misha Zilberman says applied for visa 6 months ago, but immigration department says request is still being processed.  

The World Jewish Congress said in response that Indonesia was "unfairly mixing politics and sports.”

“This decision to bar an Israeli player from an international sporting competition can’t stand, and I urge Indonesia to allow Misha Zilberman to compete in these championships,” the organization's CEO Robert Singer said in a statement.

Singer also criticized the Badminton World Federation for not aiding Zilberman and using its clout on his behalf.

“If athletes are excluded on political grounds, at the very least there should be some soul-searching going on. This sad episode casts a shadow on the event, and the failure of the BWF leadership to use its leverage speaks volumes,” he said.